“When Jesus heard it, He said, “This sickness will not end in death but is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” (John 11:4 HCSB)
“So Jesus then told them plainly, “Lazarus has died.” (John 11:14 HCSB)
In the space of ten verses, Jesus tells his disciples that Lazarus’s sickness will not end in death, and that Lazarus has died. Was he confused? Was he not telling the truth? Was he surprised when he raised Lazarus from the dead?
We know after we read the whole incident that both Jesus’ statements were true, Lazarus’s illness would not end in death, and Lazarus had indeed died. At the time he spoke them, no doubt the disciples would have been asking each other, “didn’t he just tell us that Lazarus wouldn’t die? Now he says that he is dead. What’s up with that?”
There are a couple of takeaways from this point:
- Jesus spoke some things which were at the time (and even now are to us) confusing and difficult to comprehend. Just because we do not comprehend them, and just because we cannot see how they make sense, and just because they sometimes appear to be contradictory to other things that he said, does not mean that they are not true. We need to be patient and wait for all things to be accomplished before we weigh in on whether or not what Jesus said or did [or for that matter what Scripture says] has been fulfilled or accomplished or come to pass. Sometimes we just don’t have all the facts and all of the knowledge.
- One of the things that strikes me about this passage is that there is this sense throughout the whole passage that something crazy is going to happen. From vs. 4 when Jesus says that this one incident has been designed for the glory of God, to the ensuing discussion with his disciples, to his encounter with Martha, to the amazing moment when he stands before the tomb of a guy who has been dead for four days! and says, “Lazarus, come forth,” there is the sense in the text that we are witnessing something never before seen or done, and of course we are correct. This whole episode is inconceivable—apart from Jesus having the power to speak words and raise a man from the dead.